Vampire Weekend, Forum, London

Simon O'Hagan
Tuesday 28 October 2008 01:00

A little over an hour into another ebullient performance by the most refreshing new band of the year, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig revealed that this was the longest concert they had ever given. A few minutes later it was all over, but it's doubtful whether anyone in the audience felt short-changed.

Vampire Weekend played all 11 tracks off their one and only album so far, plus three new tracks (one untitled), and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere". Such is the youthful New York four-piece's blend of wit, energy and musicianship that it was very much a case of a lot being packed into a little.

A hectic schedule of live performing throughout this year has honed Vampire Weekend's stagecraft and goes some of the way to explaining their lack of new material. They toured the UK in the early summer and then hit the festival circuit (including two shows at Glastonbury), and here they were back again.

That they were booked into three nights at the Forum was a measure of how far they have come in just a few months, and of the extent to which the whole new sub-genre they have created – "Upper West Side Soweto", to use their own description – has struck with audiences.

In Vampire Weekend's hands, preppy is enjoying a new lease of life. The era of Barack Obama beckons, and the band have made their allegiance to him explicit. Their time has come, and the urban Democrat can walk tall, iPod tuned to "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa". Everything about Vampire Weekend brims with a sophisticated optimism and joie de vivre, and Koenig said he was already looking forward to returning next year when "we'll have a second album and there will be a new president".

Vampire Weekend are one hell of a happy pill, their songs a wondrous amalgam of cleverness, exhilaration and disposability. The audience knew them all off by heart, and most of the gig was just one big singalong, from the almost nursery-rhyme simplicity of "Campus" to the lilting reggae of "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance". The audience needed little encouragement from Koenig to play its part in "One (Blake's Got a New Face)" before "Walcott" brought the evening to a delirious climax. Till 2009, then.

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